Is this taking “treat your credit card like a debit card” too far?

Another one of those funny pieces of financial behavior that I’ve been doing for a while but is maybe weird?

For background, I rarely have all my credit cards showing $0 at once. It seems like the second I pay them off, a pending charge shows up–I have a fair number of automatic charges now. Monthly donations to charities, car insurance, newspaper subscription, hulu subscription. Or, as has been the case for months now, I’m waiting for reimbursements for a work trip and so those charges are just kind of hanging out on the card. (This is a series of work trips, not one! I usually get reimbursed within a couple of weeks if my own institution is paying for it, or a month to six weeks if another institution is sending me a check.)

I finally got the last of the reimbursements last week though and most of my automatic payments hit in the last two weeks of the month so for several glorious days, I was showing $0 debt when I looked at mint.

Then I made a $25 donation and my $13 local newspaper subscription came through. Plus, on a second card, I bought $15.30 of gas.

And I felt compelled just now to go pay both of those off, even though I won’t even get the bills for another few weeks and the payments wouldn’t actually be due til a month after that.

Back in the day when I got credit card statements mailed to me, I used to just write a check for the whole amount once a month. I’m not quite sure why I feel so compelled to clean up behind me now — I do this a lot. Except for those things I’m going to get reimbursed for or charges that hit at the very end of the month, it’s quite rare for anything to actually make it to a bill.

I guess I’m wondering — is there a problem with this? Besides the minor psychological problem of wanting to see $0s. Does it bug companies when you make half a dozen small payments over the course of a month rather than just sending in one at once? Or is the thing that bothers them that I never pay interest (which isn’t going to change) rather than the quantity of small payments?

10 thoughts on “Is this taking “treat your credit card like a debit card” too far?

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Nope, this makes sense! I do it, too, but mainly because it helps mentally—I pay off the “bill” as soon as possible with my first monthly paycheck and pay off the majority of whatever I’ve put on there in the meantime with the other paycheck. My balance never gets too high and it makes me check/track my spending more closely.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah — I think I just hate seeing the balance get high (for me this is anything over say $200.) I use YNAB and track spending closely so overspending isn’t really a problem for me anymore, but I still don’t like seeing the balance go up.

  2. Jason says:

    I certainly understand what you are doing. It is hard for me to see those automatic charges and not want to pay them off. However, I pay my cc’s out of my savings account and am only allowed a certain amount of transactions so it can make it a bit difficult. But I get it and I think I can even be a bit OCD about it.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      At least I’m not the only mildly OCD one.

  3. Omg, this is SO me. I am currently paying for some medical testing with my credit card. Sometimes you don’t know what the final charge is going to be with medical billing so I use my credit card to protect my little checking account from being obliterated. As soon as the card is charged I impatiently start checking out my credit account to see when I can pay it. It seems to stay in ‘Pending’ status forever. I want to see $0.00 next to my credit card. You are not alone. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I especially understand that given your recent credit card history!

  4. I totally get where you are coming from with wanting to see a zero balance. However, I know it would trigger my OCD if I started paying things off as they happened. Once I started, it would be difficult to stop. Kind of like Pringles that way I guess. I just pay off my then-current statement balance each month. I use my credit card for everything to earn the cash back, so I know things are pending when I click the “submit payment” button. As long as you’re not getting hit with interest or fees for extra payments, I figure the most important thing is to use a system that works for you.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      OMG I love your blog name! (and I agree about the Pringles)

  5. Mariana says:

    Sometimes, when I feel like I can afford it, I would pay a bigger amount than I owe, just so I feel I am ‘ahead’.


    I pay off the credit card very 3-5 days, which I think is totally OCD

    1. thesingledollar says:

      My credit card won’t let me do that! I actually totally would pay “ahead” if I could.

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